Continuing on with my short series of First Class Titanic dishes for my good friend Angela’s party, I am tackling a simple dessert of Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly. Now to my modern sensibility I read this dessert title and thought, “What the heck? Jello for dessert in First Class?” Let’s rewind to the early 1900’s to clarify: this was well before the advent of instant gelatin, making gelatin based desserts was labour intensive and time-consuming (let’s just say that there are tendons, ligaments and connective tissues involved, click here if you must know). Serving a gelatin based dessert to your guests meant that the meal was a truly special one.
The description on this recipe says at it combines the sweetness of peaches poached in sugar syrup with the potent herbal essences of Chartreuse Liqueur. Chartreuse is a digestive, sweet with strong herbal flavours (I taste grass), not one of my favourites, I must say, but it did pair nicely with the peaches. Note that the peaches in Toronto are by no way in season at this time; I found it nearly impossible to peel the skin off as per the recipe, I have my fingers crossed that they will behave for the special evening! For the test, I made 1/4 of this recipe which worked out well for two of us. We were both impressed at how tasty it actually was, even though it’s green!
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Makes 6 servings
Recipe developed by Mrs. Beeton (the mother of British cuisine)
Ingredients for the Chartreuse Jelly:
- 5 tsp powdered flavourless gelatin
- 2 cups water
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup Chartreuse
Directions for the Chartreuse Jelly:
- Dissolve the gelatin in 1 cup of water.
- In a small pot, bring the remaining cup to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until it is entirely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 20 minutes. Add the Chartreuse and the gelatin and stir to combine.
- Pour into a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish lined with waxed paper; refrigerate until completely set.
Ingredients for the Peaches:
- 3 large clingstone peaches
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cloves
- Fresh lemon balm leaves or edible flowers (I will do this for the real dessert, I just didn’t want to buy a box of flowers for just the two testers!)
Directions for the Peaches:
- Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Immerse the peaches in a large pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds; then transfer them to ice water. Slip off the skins.
- In a large pot, combine the water and sugar; cook over medium heat stirring gently until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute or until syrup is clear.
- Add lemon juice, cinnamon stick and cloves.
- Add the prepared peaches making sure they are entirely immersed; cut a piece of parchment slightly smaller than the pot and place over the top of the peaches to make sure the remain submerged.
- Bring the syrup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low and poach the peaches gently for 6 minutes or until soft (they should be easy to cut into with a spoon). Allow the peaches to cool in the syrup. This may be stored for 24 hours in the refrigerator. The syrup that the peaches were poached in are not required for the recipe, but you may reserve it for something else!
- To serve, turn out the jelly onto a cutting board and cut half into even little squares; the remaining half should be cut into decorative shapes using a cookie cutter.
- The instructions indicate that you are to plate the cut squares onto the centre of a flat plate, arranging the jelly shapes around the edges, but I have special permission to plate in the way I photographed. I think it is a more sophisticated look.
- Slice peaches from one end to almost the other, and fan it out onto a bed of jelly. Garnish with edible flowers or lemon balm leaves.
Even though the recipe was not as labour intensive as it would have been in 1914, it will still impress your discerning guests; but then again, after 10 course dinner…there is always room for Jell-O!